Where Does the American Diabetes Association Get Their Money?


The American Diabetes Association – where does it get funding?

You’ve likely heard of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

This non-profit organization was founded in 1940. Their commitment is to supporting diabetes education and research. The ADA brings in around $155 million per year1

Now for a bit of a shocker…

I bet you’ve heard of Dannon (Dannon yogurt which is more like dessert than healthy food.) Have you heard of Kraft (Oscar Mayer weiners, Velveeta, Lunchables?) These don’t sound like very healthy food choices.

What do these giant food companies have to do with the ADA?

These companies are major corporate sponsors of the American Diabetes Association2

Have you heard of the Charity Navigator website? This website has a “Give with Confidence” star rating system.

Donors can “Give with Confidence” to charities with 3- and 4-Star ratings.

Another shocker…

The ADA currently has only a 2-star rating on the Charity Navigator website. This is up from their 1-star rating in 2020.

This low rating is due to the ADA’s spending to raise funds (2.5 out of 10.) Also based on their fundraising efficiency which is at 5.5 out of 103.

But where does this money come from, and who are the Association’s biggest backers?

According to their most recent annual report from 2020. The ADA received funds from four main categories:

  • Exchange transactions
  • Special events
  • Bequests
  • Donations

Many of which come from pharmaceutical companies. These companies are promoting their own products for diabetes.

Exchange Transactions

Have you heard the term “exchange transactions?” It’s a fancy non-profit phrase that means paying for a product or service.

Remember those yellow rubber Livestrong bracelets? All the cool kids had them back in 2005? Each purchased bracelet was  an “exchange transaction.”  Those were for a charity called the Livestrong Foundation.

Exchange transactions:

Anytime a company or organization asks a non-profit to perform a certain task for pay.

Someone buys an item from them.

In 2020 the American Diabetes Association reportedly earned $31M from this category.

Special Events

The second way the ADA receives money is from hosting special events.

These events include things like fancy dinners, parties, and community events. Events like these are a great opportunity to bring in extra cash. They charge people to participate, hold auctions, etc. In fact, in 2020, they raised $8.7M from these events.

How does this work? Imagine Elon Musk getting an invitation to a fancy dinner hosted by a big charity, such as the ADA. If he wants to go, he will “be asked” to pay a lot of money for some grilled chicken and mashed potatoes. Of course, he will because all his friends are going too.


In the third category, bequests, the Association raised $23.1M. This section refers to a special type of donation when a person leaves money to someone in their will.

So, say your great aunt Betty dies at the ripe age of 107, and you go to the will reading expecting to get a nice inheritance. Surprise! She left all the money from her Tupperware empire to the ADA. That money has been “bequeathed,” meaning it falls in this third category.


The last, but not smallest, category- is donations. This fourth group is a catch-all for any other type of money given to a charity. These donations make up the largest source of revenue for the ADA. Their most recent report states that they brought in $59.4M in 2020.

Now let’s pretend that great aunt Betty didn’t die at 107. Instead, she decides that for her 108th birthday, she wants to send the ADA $25. That contribution is a donation.

But what if her Tupperware company decides to donate $2,500? That would still be a donation. Donations can come from any person, group, or company.

Who exactly is donating all this money?

The ADA gets a lot of money from people who give personal donations. Corporations are the American Diabetes Association’s biggest donors.

Corporate donations are so important to the ADA that they have created “clubs” for these companies.

In these clubs, each level depends on how much money they donate. This type of setup is “tiered donations,” It’s meant to encourage people to give more money. This approach to fundraising is pretty common with large charities. Especially for those that are well known nationwide.

ADA Corporate Donation Tiers

The ADA recognizes four levels of corporate giving.

The Banning Circle Elite is the highest tier. Only corporations that give $1M or more in one year reach this tier.

5 companies are in this group. The most notable ones are Abbott, AstraZeneca, and Regeneron4.

Members of Banting Circle Support are in the next tier. Companies in this group must give at least $500K in a year. This includes corporations like Merk, Pfizer, and Dexcom.

These above companies make products and/or drugs to combat diabetes. Not saying there is a conflict of interest, but…

The title for the third tier is National Sponsors, which includes those who have given $400K and above. Splenda, Cintas, and Sun Life Financial are members of this level.

This is fascinating! In 2014 there was a study in Nature. People who used artificial sweeteners: have higher fasting blood sugar levels.

We know an indicator of Type 2 Diabetes is blood-sugar intolerance5

Finally, the National Strategic Partners tier is for companies that give over $150K. The ADA claims to have four companies in this group. They are VSP Vision Care, DaVita, and CVS Pharmacy.

Why does this matter?

It’s very important to know how a non-profit makes its money, and how it spends its money.  You may have heard the old saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

The ADA spends over 50% of its funding raising money.

The ADA also only very recently started to promote that a low-carb diet could be helpful. For many years studies and patient accounts have shown that it helps! Type 2 Diabetes has been completely reversed by following this type of eating.

Unfortunately, most Doctors look at “official” information. They are often teaching people to eat 50g of carbs at each meal. Holy blood sugar spike! They also teach people to snack between meals to lose weight. This isn’t going to help anyone with pre or Type 2 Diabetes.

Charity Navigator is a great place to go check out any non-profit that you are thinking of donating to.

Top Signs You Have Type 2 Diabetes – Before Your Doctor Tells You

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  1. https://www.diabetes.org/about-us/corporate-support.
  2. https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/physicians-take-what-health.
  3. https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/131623888.
  4. https://www.diabetes.org/about-us/corporate-support/banting-circle-supporters.
  5. Suez, J. Nature, published online, Sept. 17, 2014.

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